Dallas-based clothing and accessories line GAIA has announced it will shut its doors this May. The brand’s giftable goods, from handbags and pillows to blouses and bows, were featured often in the pages of D Home and D Magazine over its nearly decade-long run. And the line’s aesthetic (bright colors, punchy prints, and colorful leather) is as beautiful as its impact—for nearly ten years, GAIA has empowered refugee women through employment and sustainable incomes.
Just last year, GAIA moved into an adorable Uptown carriage house. The first floor was devoted to retail, but upstairs, founder Paula Minnis created a haven for her artisans, who seemed to be friends as mush as they were coworkers. GAIA plans to support her employees during the transition, setting them up for future success with resume workshops, mock interviews, recommendation letters, and more. Minnis is also exploring the idea of creating a sewing co-op, where local interior designers or other brands could hire the artisans to complete projects on a freelance basis.
In keeping with the the brand’s positive ethos, GAIA is dubbing its last few weeks “Project Farewell,” which will include gatherings and parties in celebration of what Minnis and her talented team have accomplished.
Understandably, the decision to close GAIA wasn’t an easy one (Minnis ultimately wants to focus her energy on her family). We’ve included a sample of her announcement below, but you can read the full, heartfelt message here.
GAIA has been a true labor of love and such a source of joy, meaning, and fulfillment in so many lives, especially mine! However, after almost 10 years of running and growing GAIA, I’ve determined that it is time for me to take a step back and redirect my energy to my family.
Over the years we’ve grown organically and gently, watching in awe as our Artisans have grown as well. And now, as I struggled with what my decision to take a step back would mean for them, I’ve recognized that the time has come where they are actually NOT refugees anymore. They are mothers, wives, artisans, homeowners… and Americans. These women have transformed their lives. The warm cocoon we created at GAIA has served its purpose, and the butterflies are ready to emerge.
Our focus now is to help launch the Artisans into their next chapter as smoothly as possible, so they can secure jobs before our target closing at the end of May. We’ll be working on résumés, references, mock-interviews, etc. to help equip them and set them up for success. I’m hopeful that there may be employment opportunities discovered through people within our network. The wonderful thing is, we know each and every one of our Artisans intimately, and can recommend and vouch for them with complete confidence.